I am grateful (most of the time) to live in this day and age when technology is so accessible and therefore makes work and far away family more accessible. However, sometimes this accessibility to technology makes us forget about the family right in front of us that may be suffering from our lack of attention.
On Memorial Day my (now) fiancé and I decided to take the children out to breakfast. We arrived and received a friendly greeting (and a long wait time.) We sat down with the four kids and began looking around—virtually every family was fully enraptured by their hand-held devices. Some had headphones plugged into their mobile music player, others scrolled through news on their mobile phone, while others sat reading on their tablet. Our kids, noticing this as well asked each of us (adults) for our phones. At that moment we had a choice to either let the kids be placated by an electronic device or take the opportunity to engage as a blended family with no distractions from technology. Without missing a beat we both said, “NO.” I started a game of “I’m thinking of,” a childhood favorite of mine, and what started with a bit of resistance turned into a great time. Perhaps some of the other families did not appreciate the giggles and noise, but we can say we created a good memory that day.
Luckily, I was raised in a family where conversation around the dinner table reigned. Conversations often bled into dishwashing time, and those not involved in clean-up stuck around the table simply to visit. But now, raising my own children, it seems that they can’t wait to leave to get back to their games and music, and companies are starting to take notice.
On June 14, Dixie brand launched the campaign #DarkforDinner aimed at families and friends being fully engaged with each other at meal time. A study that Dixie commissioned found that families have fewer than two meals a month without distraction, and that 20 percent of respondents don’t do it at all. Other studies have shown that sharing meals together really does impact a child’s life, often translating into better grades in school and a lower likelihood of participating in risky behaviors, among other things.
In true social media fashion, #DarkforDinner allows individuals to tag their profile and let others know that they will be “off the grid” during the meal. The campaign has prompted conversation over the past six Sundays, including such topics as: embarrassing stories, fears and romance. Some of these conversations among family and friend groups are available to watch via the Dixie Youtube Channel. An overview of the campaign can be viewed here.
Regardless of the reason you decide to hold family dinner, there are definite benefits to gain from taking the time away from being technologically “connected” and to just be present in the moment. Bring it up in your family and see if you can go #DarkforDinner.